How are applications assessed?

How are applications assessed?

Consultation

People have a chance to express their views to planning applications. Public consultation includes site notices and letters to neighbours and parish councils. Not all applications submitted to us require public consultation.

The formal consultation period lasts for 21 days. Anyone may comment on a planning application during this period. Written comments will be considered when we make a decision on the application. Comments must be relevant to the proposal and 'material' to the planning application.

If you wish to comment upon the application you can make your comments to us.Or you can send us an email to planning.reps@gravesham.gov.uk (an automated response will be sent for both).

Comments are known as representations. These are available for inspection on the planning register, in accordance with the law and may be published on our website. Whilst there are exceptions to this legal requirement, which generally relate to personal information, they are limited. Should such information be contained within correspondence we reserve the right:

  • to decline to make such correspondence publicly available; or
  • to redact the relevant correspondence.

You should seriously consider the need to supply such information as part of any comments you make. An acknowledgment letter will not be sent for any comments received or notification of application decision. Officers can not engage in correspondence or site visits with neighbours or third party as part of the formal consultation.

We will also consult other organisations such as the Environment Agency, Natural England, and Historic England in order that other important considerations.

Many issues can be 'material considerations', but these should relate to the use and development of land. The planning system works in the public interest and matters that affect solely private interests are not usually material considerations in planning decisions. However, each application is considered on its merits.

Amendments

Negotiations during an application are an important part of the planning process. They can help allow us to respond to the needs of both applicants and interested parties. We aim to deliver good levels of customer service to all parties. They enable schemes to be amended and improved in order to;

  • Address relevant concerns raised by consultees, neighbours, Town/Parish Councils and Councillors; and
  • Allow the development to comply with planning policy or guidance

The facility to secure amendments to a proposal should not be regarded as an acceptable substitute to taking up pre-application advice from us, or the preparation of a properly thought through and prepared planning application.

If planning officers consider that an amendment is necessary, the applicant will be invited to make that change. To provide certainty as to how amendments will be approached, and in order to minimise delays in reaching a decision, officers will:

  • Not seek to negotiate on matters of detail where the development is considered unacceptable in principle
  • Only request or invite amendments that are minor, and able to be clearly identified and defined.  We will not enter potentially open-ended negotiations, or where subsequent revisions are likely to become necessary
  • Seek changes that reduce the impact of the development, where re-consultation will generally not be necessary.  In limited circumstances, at the discretion of officers, a change requiring re-consultation may be sought
  • Clearly set out what change needs to be made, and explain why that change is necessary
  • Set a suitable time limit for the submission of amended plans and request an extension of time for determining the application thereafter if necessary
  • Provide one opportunity for amendments to be made before reaching our decision
  • If an amendment would significantly change the nature or content of the scheme, you may be asked to withdraw the application and make a fresh submission. If the application is not withdrawn, a decision will be made based on the application as it stands.

Decision Making

Planning officers often decide smaller developments under delegated decision-taking powers. Larger and more controversial developments are often decided by our planning committee, the Regulatory Board 

The Regulatory Board meets at the Civic Centre about once a month, usually on a Wednesday at 7pm. If you are the applicant or agent or have made a written representation on a proposal, you have the right to speak at the Regulatory Board.

Register to speak at a Planning Meeting

You will need to register with us if you want to speak. You need to do this no later than midday on the working day before the meeting. For example, for a meeting on a Wednesday evening you must register to speak by midday on the Tuesday.

You can register by emailing committee.section@gravesham.gov.uk, by phoning 01474 337302, or by sending a letter to:

Committee & Electoral Services, Gravesham Borough Council, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 1AU

What happens next?

We make decisions on minor applications, including most householder cases, in up to 8 weeks. Major development, such as large housing or business sites, can take up to 13 weeks.

Once planning permission is granted, development should be started within three years. If work has not started by then, the applicant may need to reapply.

The National Planning Policy Framework  emphasises the need for local planning authorities to approach decision-taking in a positive way, with a focus on supporting the delivery of sustainable development. We work with applicants to secure developments that improve the economic, social, and environmental conditions of our area.

The planning system is plan-led, and any planning application must be determined in line with the development plan (Local and neighbourhood plans) unless other material considerations indicate otherwise.

We can consider whether otherwise unacceptable development could be made acceptable through the use of conditions, or a planning obligation attached to a planning decision.